So I have returned to some very interesting lefty bleating – it appears that the federal government has identified a new source of revenue – welfare recipients. Before that it was multinational corporations, excessive super balances, the air that we breathe, mining rents, and so on. You get the idea. Somehow the lefties never minded before. But see what two of our favourite lefties are on about.
One of their stupidest mistates is to calculate fortnightly income by dividing annual income by 26. If the figure is too high the robots say someone wasn’t entitled to benefits during the weeks they received them, even if during those weeks the person earned nothing. In other words, they misapply the law.
Shocking error to be sure. Just as bad, I suspect, as dividing tax paid by accounting profit (or worse revenue) and reporting that companies pay less than 30% tax.
But wait – there is more:
One of the wilder theories is that they intended to. By inflicting a faulty debt recovery system on the public, they wanted to persuade ignorant, scared and busy people to hand over money they didn’t owe and dissuade others from ever applying for benefits again.
No! Really? Sounds just like the tax system. Not a wild theory at all. That is precisely what the government does, and I suspect, is doing now. Interestingly, it is Richard Denniss who bells this particular cat:
A company that sent threatening letters to tens of thousands of former customers demanding money when it knew that many customers owed nothing would potentially be engaged in a fraud. The willingness of the commonwealth to do similarly, to place the onus of proof on the citizen so many years after the fact, and to be hasty in the dispatching of debt collectors should shock conservatives and libertarians as much as it does progressives and welfare advocates.
Yes – it is fraud. We’ve been making that and similar arguments about government behaviour relating to taxation for years. So, no, we are not shocked, or even astonished.
There is, of course, an alternate theory:
A more likely explanation is that they didn’t know what they were doing.
It is, of course, very likely that the government doesn’t really understand how the welfare systems works (and the tax system too), but I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the government knows how to run a shakedown. People like Denniss and Martin are usually cheerleaders for government shakedown, so I’m going to enjoy their sudden appreciation of liberal values.